Fasting: Part 1

Cards on the table: fasting is hard. And no fun. I have spent the last 18 years as a Christian wilfully ignoring it as something that is beyond me, something for those more ‘hardcore Christians’ than I. Actually that’s not quite true – on a number of occasions I could count on one hand, I have attempted to launch myself, full of enthusiasm and good intentions, into anything from 24 hour to 3 day fasts and fallen flat on my face merely hours into the period I’d allocated, leaving me discouraged and resigned to it just not being for me.

But I want desperately to be able to fast and always have, and every now and again, God brings the subject up – you know what I mean, that niggling feeling he gives us about an issue that just won’t go away until we’ve faced it – and I’ve decided that this time, instead of sticking my fingers in my eyes and doing the ‘I’m not listening’ routine, to examine just why I am so apprehensive about fasting, and what can be done about it.

Because God is very clear in the Bible that Christians should fast. He never says ‘if you fast’. It is always ‘when you fast’. ‘It’s just not for me’ isn’t an option. And before we panic, he isn’t talking about 40 days without food or water (although of course there are those who are called to this level, but it is very rare!). He is talking about a set period of spiritual preparation during which we suppress the distractions of our lives in order to give our undivided attention to God which results in a heightened awareness of His presence and His priorities for us. For each of us, this may take a different form.

Charles Stanley says, “Our agenda is replaced by His as we connect with Him in deeper intimacy and receive all that He has to tell us. It can be one of the most powerful experiences of the Christian life…(it enables us) to gain deeper communion with God…The intent is always to be in the Lord’s presence without disturbances so that His voice can be heard.”

The Bible gives us examples of people fasting for breakthrough in prayer, for guidance, but essentially fasting can bring clarity in how we discern God’s voice.

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him— these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.” Corinthians 2:9-10

WRITTEN BY KAREN ROY

Karen Portrait

Advertisements

Doubt?

Doubt is something I now realise I struggle with.

In my experience, the consequence of living in doubt can go two ways.  Either we seek to ‘make things happen’ for ourselves (we run ahead – often with disastrous results), or we live in a state of apathy, and golden opportunities pass us by.

This has been something I have prayed about.

My prayer went something like this:

Lord, I realise I have been living in doubt, and in your holy name I ask that the shadow of doubt be removed.

I no longer doubt that You have good in store for me

I no longer doubt that You have good in store for your people

I no longer doubt that You can do anything.

I no longer doubt Your power in me

I no longer doubt that You are coming back

I no longer doubt that Your Kingdom will be established

I no longer doubt that You will deal with the wicked.

I also had a vision.  Behind a veil was a bowl of fruit, big juicy ripe fruit.  In amongst the fruit was a book which had disintegrated.

It seems quite a sad vision – I wondered if it was just relevant to me personally or had a wider meaning.  I wondered if this is a book I intended to write, or if it refers to the bible in secular society.

It raised the question in my mind that ‘how many people in secular society realise who the author of moral living is’?

I have a non-christian friend who is a very morally upright person. We work in the same office and I could see she looked shrivelled in spirit.  I was prompted to call her over and see if she was ok.  She said she was very upset at the behaviour of some members of her team, and the extra work this caused her, she felt it was unfair and she was angry.  In the old days I would have soothed her, agreed with her righteous anger, and probably inflamed the situation.  However, I told her that she was suffering from unforgiveness (to which she agreed wholeheartedly) and that it was weighing her down, and that she was more important than the situation around her.  I told her it was best for her to just forgive and let them get on with it.  I also told her that this was a Word from the Lord.  She seemed to shy away at that point.  The next day she stopped for a chat, and the Lord prompted me to tell her that she had walked a very straight path and that he honours her.  She became shy and a little flustered but spent the rest of the day beaming.   There is a competition at work to decorate Christmas trees in traditions of different countries with a prize for the best one.  One team has hung a tree upside down – in what they call an Australian theme.  My friend remarked that she didn’t like this idea – she disagreed with ‘black magic’.  I said to her ‘see – you are more spiritual than you think’ and we laughed.

I have had conversations with some members of church who lament that ‘they cannot share their love of the Lord with their secular friends’.   Is this a problem with doubt?

Since God revealed to me that I struggle with doubt I have been on a fruitful journey, I hope my sharing it will help you.

 

Kathy Judd